I was talking to one of the hockey dads at the rink yesterday and somehow we got on the topic of parenting tweens.
One comment he made has been sticking to my brain:
“I gave my mom a hard time too when I was that age”, he said. He was making a reference to what he remembers being a tween boy and how he behaved toward his mom.
Hm. I’ve been reflecting on this.
Basically I’m to believe that I’m normal, and my kids are normal, and everything is normal.
Except, I’m not feeling normal. I’m often feeling exasperated, annoyed, exhausted and uninspired. Tired, elated and then frustrated. Happy and sad. Hopeful and depressed. And everything in between.
And they say we’re supposed to acknowledge THEIR hormones and mood swings.
I’ll tell you something. I used to read parenting books (and disliked 95% of them for the advice, although some did entertain). But I kept reading. This was before I discovered blogs. After I discovered blogs, I got rid of all the parenting books.
Blogs are so much better, aren’t they? People are ‘real’ and doing ‘everyday stuff’ and talking about it. I feel closer to bloggers than I do to ‘parenting’ experts. The bloggers live my life! They share my experiences! They’re experiencing the same challenges as I do, at the same time, in the same societal elements.
These days, I find myself especially uninterested in reading anything about tweens by any so-called expert. They can send me their expertise-filled parenting books and I will take those books and whack my children with them.
My son is 12 today. In 4 years he will want to learn how to drive. My daughter is 9 and a half and going on 13. She asked me something about acne today. Is she expecting to get acne already?
They are growing up quickly but still have one foot in childhood.
They are still children.
The last few years have proven several things to me:
I am not a good parent. I’m not a bad parent, either, exactly, but there are so many things I do wrong I can’t even…
When things are going great, or when I feel the most blissful, one of them will ruin it with some stupid action (or inaction) or remark. This is almost always guaranteed (maybe because kids are programmed this way) and only reinforces the fact that I am not a good parent. If I was a good parent, I would stop myself from being impatient, or from yelling and freaking out. I would choose to not let them get to me. (How does one do this?) I would take a deep breath, take a step back, address the crime, and deal with it calmly.
This does not happen. The reasons are assorted and although I know instinctively that I should remain calm, not get engaged in their arguments or negotiations, or let their commentary roll off me, I seem to fail at this regularly. (There are many reasons why I am this way or why I react this way; some are beyond my control, some are in-bred, and some are due to fatigue or hormone-related fluctuations. Either way, if I were to take that first step, perhaps the subsequent reactions from them would be less dramatic? I just don’t know.)
Ultimately I know they’re good kids. They do well in school, are mostly well-behaved, more or less do was they’re told (even though repetition of chores and responsibilities will ultimately kill me), have a wide range of friends, are active in sports and all the rest of it. I have relatively few problems that point toward red flags as we are on the threshold of the teen years.
But it’s all the little things, the accumulation of them, isn’t it? I can’t be the only one who gets to the point of needing or wanting to take a break. I try to picture what it would be like if I was out of the house 8, 9 hours a day instead of at home plugged into my laptop…maybe that day is coming. Maybe that day is needed, for me to not be here constantly, to make them step up a bit more. I try to let them remember on their own and not harp on them so much, but that’s pretty hard to do when they’re constantly under foot and demanding more of everything. “Check the schedule on the wall”, I tell them. “It’s printed right there. Or write out your daily reminders on the white board.”
Repetition will surely be the end of me.
It never ends. And I am not built in such a way that I can let it all go. If I let it all go, we’d be living in a pig sty and eating fried chicken out of a bucket every few days, with a bag of factory-cut baby carrots on the table. (Not really, but those days would occur semi-regularly…)
Perhaps all I need is this week off. It’s March Break, and there’s no school. A week of not planning and running around and reminding. The kids are not booked in camp, the boy is celebrating his 12th birthday today and happily plugged into his Xbox now, and we had a huge lunch at an Asian fusion place that allows us to skip dinner (because we’re still too full from lunch). Hockey is on hold for a bit as half the team is away for the break, and even her activities are mostly canceled.
A week off. Could this be a turning point? I know next week will be hectic beyond belief with a hockey tournament, so perhaps this week I lay off the chores, do minimal food prep, and just lay low.
After all, it was 12 years ago today that I birthed the first child. I deserve a break today, right?